Protomen “Light Up The Night” at Williamsburg

By Taylor MacMillan, Contributing Writer

When an android introduces a rock-opera band in Brooklyn, you know it’s about to get real.

That’s just what happened on Wednesday, March 8th, as a robo-faced stranger by the name of “K.I.L.R.O.Y.” addressed the fans waiting in the Music Hall of Williamsburg. “K.I.L.R.O.Y.” is just one of the many members of The Protomen, an indie rock-opera group from Nashville. Led by vocalist Raul “Panther” Panther III, the group tours with their two “acts” of a rock-and-roll story depicting the origin story of popular video game character MegaMan.

The story told by The Protomen is a lot darker than the original story of the colorful 8-bit character. Set in a futuristic, cyberpunk New York City, the evil Dr. Wily has taken control of the city, and rules with an army of see-all, hear-all, heartless robots. In the shadows, Wily’s past partner Dr. Thomas Light has built a new robot, MegaMan, to defeat Wily and dismantle his tyrannical regime. For an album conceived nearly fifteen years ago, it’s a story that’s more relevant now than ever before.

“If there’s one thing that this band is about,” Commander B. Hawkins, the band’s drummer and composer remarked in a Q&A session before the show, “it’s about fighting tyranny. And if there’s one thing that we could tell people, it’s to keep f—ing fighting.

Also featured before the show was the short film/music video hybrid for their song “Light Up the Night”. Directed by Matt Sundin and Caspar Newbolt, the video brought to life the final half of Act II- Light’s first attack against Dr. Wily. The Music Hall of Williamsburg was featured prominently in the short film, with extras from the scene shot five years ago reappearing at this show.

The concert itself was phenomenal. It’s not often that a band performs their discography live in the album’s order, but the format of rock-opera demands it. As the band performed the story of Light and MegaMan live, “K.I.L.R.O.Y.” had systematic appearances, coming on stage at certain points to bestow the helmets of ProtoMan and MegaMan upon Panther as he took upon their respective roles in the story. Blending classic rock-and-roll style with synthesizers and even adopting a western feeling for parts of Act II, The Protomen have reinvigorated concept albums and operatic performances with a futuristic twist. The band managed to fill Williamsburg with a revolutionary spirit against a fictitious yet familiar enemy: the systemic oppression of the many by those in power.

No one seemed to have more fun than the band members themselves. Throughout the show, their energy was positively electric, and they expressed numerous times their gratefulness for the crowd that filled nearly the entire concert hall. After the show, they stayed late talking to fans and signing posters, clothing, and even fan-replica helmets and costumes.

While The Protomen won’t be touring much this year as they prepare for recording of the long-anticipated Act III, the band is still worth checking out for their unique take on the MegaMan story and the techno-rock genre.

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